The ins and outs of ethical purchasing.

Jun 28 2017

Ethical purchasing has a feel-good factor that goes way beyond the initial rush you get when you treat yourself. But how do you know who is truly ethical?

Ethical Purchasing

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Ethical purchasing: Why make the effort?

The term ‘retail therapy’ takes on a whole new meaning for the conscious consumer. Ethical purchasing comes with a feel-good factor that goes way beyond the initial rush you get when you treat yourself.

Yes, your nails look awesome. But they look even better when you know they’re also saving the planet.

The power of ethical purchasing is undeniable. Imagine what the world would look like if every business on the planet was run ethically. Imagine if environmental and social justice was a core business value. Our world would be a very different, much better, place.

You have the power to create positive change by supporting ethical business. But how do you know who is truly ethical, and who is simply paying lip service?

Accreditations are the most reliable way to know a business is legitimately ethical and accountable for its claims. However, not all accreditations are created equal. As a result, not all ethical products are actually ethical. Yep, wtf? Here’s what to look out for.

Why some ethically produced products aren’t actually ethical

Have you heard about turn-key, or private label, products?

Manufacturers often deliver complete products to a business. These brands then sell the product under their own label with their own packaging. This is called a turn-key (as in, you just have to turn the key and it works) or private label product. In many industries this is common practice, including cosmetics.

Manufacturers stay in business by producing private label products for multiple companies. To remain competitive, they generally don't disclose their suppliers. This is problematic for ethical purchasing for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, you need to know the whole supply chain. Otherwise it’s impossible to verify that a product has been completely ethically produced.

Also, what else is the manufacturer producing? If they’re producing one ethical product and fifty non-ethical products, we have a problem. The idea is to buy ethical. Not ‘sort of’ ethical.

Accreditations: what is actually ethical?

Conscious consumers rely on the familiar logos of trusted organisations to verify if their purchase is truly ethical.

The Cruelty Free International leaping bunny is a perfect example of this. This is also where we run into a couple of issues for truly ethical purchasing.

First of all; not all accreditations are stringent. Due to a lack of regulation, processes vary greatly.

As a result, some organisations require a company to complete an in-depth questionnaire and conduct a strict audit to verify that a product is as ethical as claimed. Other organisations ask for a few simple questions to be filled out and that’s it.

Which organisation does what might surprise you.

Organisations that audit

Organisations that don’t

  • PETA
  • Vegan Society
  • Australian Made
  • Choose Cruelty Free (they do conduct an in-depth questionnaire)

Secondly, there are a lot of imposters out there. Have you ever felt comfortable in your purchase because you’ve spotted the Cruelty Free International bunny on the packaging?

Take a closer look.

Many companies create a similar-but-not-the-same image to claim cruelty free, but aren’t actually accredited. It’s purposefully misleading. Consequently, there’s a high chance that you’ve bought a product that you’ve thought was accredited but actually isn’t.

Tricky. But, most of all, frustrating.

Our Tip

Get what you’re paying for. Always look for the licensed logo. That way you know it’s fully accredited and you can go home confident in your ethical purchase.